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Hark! A Vagrant is a webcomic created by cartoonist Kate Beaton. Having previously earned a bachelor’s degree in history, much of the humor in Beaton’s comics comes from comedic depictions of historical figures and scenes, although she does occasionally post about more contemporary subjects, such as superhero comics and Nancy Drew books.
Beaton originally created the comics for her university newpaper, The Argosy. In 2007 she began uploading these comics onto her LiveJournal Beatonna and the now defunct Katebeaton.com. On March 12th, 2009 she moved her comics to their current location, a webcomic titled Hark! A Vagrant, the first comic uploaded titled “Duchamp” about the French surrealist.
Kate Beaton’s work on the comic has achieved critical acclaim, with her first independently-released collection of comics Never Learn Anything About History winning the 2009 Doug Wright Award for best emerging talent. Her work on the comic has also been nominated for Joe Shuster awards in 2009 and 2010 and for a Harvey Award in 2010, before finally winning the Harvey Award for Best Online Comic in 2011 and 2012.
Kate Beaton’s comics are a frequent source of parody online, with her comics often redrawn to change the characters to those of a different series. Series which have been featured in these redraws include among others, Sherlock, Mass Effect, Homestuck, and Adventure Time. There even exists a whole tumblr devoted to Homestuck versions of Hark! A Vagrant strips.
Kate Beaton has expressed her dissatisfaction with the creation of these redrawn comics on her Twitter, although much of her displeasure comes more from the lack of credit she gets from these spoofs, a problem she has with image-stealing tumblrs as well.
Sub-Meme: Ooh Mr X
By far the most popular Hark! A Vagrant comic for edits, “Ooh Mister Darcy” is a comic parodying the large amounts of fanfiction that has been written about the works of Jane Austen, specifically her novel Pride and Prejudice. Originally drawn as a simple throwaway picture included in a LiveJournal update, Beaton encouraged others to draw their own versions in the post. The resulting pictures which have been made since the comic was first posted have featured characters from a wide range of media, including My Little Pony, Back to the Future and even the musicians DeadMau5 and Skrillex.
Sub Meme: Martin Freeman/John Watson is made of Jam, Kittens, and Rage
The Hark! A Vagrant comic, “The Case of the Two Watsons” has been credited with helping start the tumblr meme, “John Watson and his Jam”, which is closely associated with “Martin Freeman/John Watson is made of Jam, Kittens, and Rage”.
Due to the popularity of her comics, a number of panels from the comic have become popular reaction images on websites such as tumblr. The phrases used in these panels have also gained usage in various image macros.
- I Had Fun Once And It Was Awful comes from a collection of comics titled “Juarez and Maximilian” about the former emperor and president of Mexico.
- Then I Will Sit Here Consumed With Lust originates from a comic parodying Pride and Prejudice titled “Too Much Austen”, with the famous panel depicting a sexually frustrated Mr. Darcy.
- What If X Orbits Y originates from a comic titled “Tycho That Was Uncalled For”, which parodies a conversation between German astronomer Johannes Kepler and his former teacher Tycho Brahe, discussing whether the earth orbits the sun or vice-versa.
Search interest starts in July 2008. After a steady rise, it shows a large peak in September 2009, after which search interest has stayed somewhat stable.